Sustainable development


This lesson introduces the development economics course and focuses on the goals set out by the UN, to improve the lives of the poorest sections of the planet.

Enquiry question

What are the millennium and sustainable development goals?

Is the world on target to achieve the goals that it has set itself?

Lesson time: 40 minutes

Lesson objectives:

Outline the current status of international development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals and the sustainable development goals.

Teacher notes:

1. Beginning activity - begin with the opening  2 videos and then discuss the millennium development goals as a class. Is the world on target to meet these goals or not? (Allow 20 minutes in total for the video, discussion and questions on activity 1 and 2)

2. Processes - technical vocabulary - the students can learn the background information from the videos, activities and the list of key terms.  (allow 5 minutes to read the key terms)

3. Activity 3 - students can watch the short video and summarise the SDGs.  (10 minutes)

4. Fun simulation on development - (5 minutes)

Key terms:

Development - measures improvements in individual freedom, reducing poverty as well as the provision of public services – education, health care and the maintenance of law and order.  Economic development is measured by the HDI (human development index).

Sustainable development goals - 17 life-changing goals, outlined by the UN in 2015. These global goals, also known as the ustainable Development Goals (SDGs), include ending extreme poverty, giving people better healthcare, and achieving equality for women.

Millennium development goals - 8 Millennium development goals that all UN nations committed to work towards by 2015.

Activity 1: UN millennium development goals

Watch the following youtube video and then decide whether the UN's millennium development goals have been met or not?

The 8 goals are as follows:

Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty − this has been partially successful, with the number of people living in absolute poverty halved between 1990 and 2010.  The number of children under 5 years old, who are seriously underweight has also reduced significantly.  There are still five more years left to reduce this figure further.

Achieving universal primary education for all children − more than half of this target had been achieved by 2012. 

Promote gender equality and empower women − The number of women in national parliaments has almost doubled during this period. 

Reduce child mortality − in 1990, 9% of children died before they were five years old.  By 2012 this had halved to just 4,8%.

Improving maternal health − the target was to reduce the number of women dying during birth by 75%.  By 2013 this has not been achieved but the situation is improving.

Combating preventable diseases such as HIV, aids and malaria − improvements have been made in this target, for instance improved access to health services have cut the number of deaths from TB by 22 million. 

Ensure environmental sustainability − 2.3 billion people have gained access to clean water supplies during this period.  89% of the world now has clean, safe water to drink.

Develop a global partnership for development − progress has been made, though some nations have performed better than others.  The UN General Secretary, Ban Ki−moon stated, 'We are on our way to freeing the world from extreme poverty'.

More information on the Millennium development goals can be accessed on the WHO website at: http://www.WHO

Activity 2: Sustainable development goals

Start by watching the following video and then summarise the 5 Ps which form the basis of the sustainable development goals:

The 5 Ps are people, prosperity, peace, partnership and planet.

Further reading on the sustainable development goals can be found at: SDG

Activity 3: Development simulation

End this lesson with this fun simulation:

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